For those unfortunates who missed early decade live performances by Dave Hahn and Dub Is A Weapon, heading to recorded artifacts makes sense. But on stage is when and where this band needs to be experienced.
Coming out of a New York ska scene decimated by pop culture and its main press outlets, Hahn, the group’s guitarist, collected around him performers snatched from the likes of Mephiskapheles and the Scofflaws (they’ve got everything you need: a black suit and a bag of weed). Added in was Larry McDonald, a Jamaican percussionist sporting a shockingly broad backlog of recorded works. With the troupe assembled, Dub Is A Weapon headed out on a number of tours pushing into the country’s heartland, issuing instrumental compositions influenced equally by the Jamaican players McDonald had worked with as by 1970s guitar groups.
As the ensemble’s orchestrator, Hahn pushed his instrument out front on self-released CDs. Something like five years later, Dub is a Weapon churns out a more relaxed session for Vaporized, even as Hahn loses his nut during “Curva Peligrosa.” Yeah, it’s an oppressively vacuous title for an album, even if any number of stoners are going to be sitting around listening while burnin’ one. Hahn knows his audience, though.
Understanding stoned reggae fans imbibe extended instrumental tracks with the same frequency as leafy green inspiration, Vaporized comprises nine tracks with only one falling short of the five minute mark. “Asheville,” a decent representation of the album as a whole, finds its melody defined through Dub Is A Weapon’s horn section as opposed to guitar, something Hahn was wont to do in days gone by. Making the composition better fodder for live performance than exploration through recordings are the few open passages during which Hahn goes and twiddles knobs, pulling in and dropping out various instruments, making the act of dubbing tantamount to having another player in the studio. Amidst any one of these airy passages, drum and bass become the song’s focus with smatterings of McDonald’s hand drums incorporating a nyabinghi feel while the saxophone improvises around the bubbling up of digitally augmented guitar sounds. Endless variations are possible, just not on a CD.
A few of the songs on Vaporized move to a quicker pace. “Forwarding Home” goes so far as to include a substantial vocal, even if it kinda fails. But what the album should point out to auld tyme fans is that the band’s far more engaging live. For those new to these sounds, though, Vaporized should provide a substantial reason for catching Dub Is A Weapon on the road.Visit: Dub Is A Weapon | Harmonized
Purchase: Insound | eMusic